ALICE, Texas — A Coastal Bend family facing a devastating and deadly illness as their family is slowly torn apart.
How do they stay strong?
Francis Luna and her family say it’s their faith and their close ties that have kept them going even as yet another member of the family wonders when her time will come.
"I lost a husband,” Francis Luna told us. “I lost a daughter, a sister and a mother and a grandmother all to cancer,” Luna says with a smile, staying strong while eating with her daughters and other family members at Charro Restaurant in Alice.
So much loss in just one family isn’t stopping Luna from staying strong for everyone else even though her days, at least according to doctors, are numbered.
“Well, I'm a cancer patient,” Luna tells us. "I've been since 2001 and it progresses.”
Cancer first robbed Luna of one of her kidneys back in 2001 and then nearly two decades later, the cancer would come back. This time, doctors found cancer in her lungs and gave her six months to a year to live.
We asked why Luna didn’t feel pity for herself.
She quickly answered, “No. Why? I take it a day at a time."
Chemotherapy has taken its toll and then when Luna began losing her hair, she decided she wasn't going to let cancer take everything. So she began wearing hats that made her feel better, at least on the outside.
"It makes me feel human,” Luna says with a big laugh. “It makes me feel attractive.”
That’s exactly how Luna felt the day we met her as she and some of her closest loved ones returned from a quinceanera for one of her granddaughters.
"I'm glad I got to see her because of my age and with my illness, you never know what tomorrow holds,” Luna says.
Luna’s middle daughter sits next to her mother at the table and when asked about the doctor’s diagnosis, Virginia Ramirez began crying and said she would feel “lost. A little bit lost.”
She realizes she has to stay strong if not for her mother, then herself.
When we asked her how similar she is to her mother, Ramirez told us, “I don’t know. We clash,” she said with a laugh.
They may clash but it's all part of their mother-daughter bond.
We tried to ask Ramirez some questions but her mother would always begin talking first.
When asked if she was what some call “their mother’s child,” Luna began saying, “Yes, she is. We go everywhere together.”
Ramirez would then say, “No, that's my little sister. I’m just in the middle.”
But it's Ramirez, the middle child, who now spends a lot of time with her mother since they live together and share the good times and the bad.
"Not that I don't have faith but you know, we agree,” she told us. “We disagree to disagree but I've always been with her.”
Ramirez and Luna continue to make the most of each day until that one day finally arrives yet in the meantime, Luna isn't letting cancer get in the way of living life.
"I still keep on trucking,” she says with a smile.
And when asked how she remains so strong in the face of such adversity she said, “The Lord. He's the one that gives me the strength.”